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Ask Ancestry Anne: Who were Silas Allington’s parents?

Question: I have connected with several other members of to try and find more about my husband’s great great-grandfather, Silas Allington. We all have the date of his birth, January 26, 1850 (we think in New York), and the date of his death, March 15, 1897, in Chillicothe, Illinois. We all agree that he was married to Emeline Potter. This is all documented on his grave stone. The problem is that we all have differing or no information as to who his parents were and beyond. We have all hit a roadblock. Can you help us go further?

Answer: I think I have found a path that you can follow.

Let’s start with what you know and work back.  Silas’ tombstone, in Chillicothe City Cemetery in Peoria County, Illinois, states that he was born Jan 26, 1850 and he died March 15, 1897.  He has a wife, Emma that was born October 20, 1852 and who died May 10, 1923.

So where to begin?

  • Silas should be in the 1850–1880 censuses.
  • Emma is most likely in the 1880 through 1920 census with her married name.  Maybe 1870 census.
  • Given Emma’s death date, we can look her up in a death index for Illinois.

Let’s start with 1880, where we find them in Chillicothe, Peoria, Illinois:


  • Silas was born about 1851 in New York, and his parents were born in New Jersey.
  • Emma was born about 1853 in New York, her parents were born in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
  • Willie was born about 1875 in New York as were his parents.
  • Freddie was born about 1878 in New York as were his parents.
  • It is possible that Silas and Emma were married in New York about 1873 or 1874; we can make that guess because Willie was born in 1875.
  • They moved to Illinois sometime between 1878 and 1880.
  •  I found no other Allingtons are in Peoria or surrounding counties in 1880.

Next I look for the death record for Emma.                  

She is in the Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916 -1947:


The birth and death information match the tombstone.  The index states her father’s name was Potter and her mother’s name was Amelia.  I suggest you find the actual record from Peoria County, Illinois.  There may be more clues on the actual death certificate.

Our best guess at the moment is they were married in New York, around 1873.  We are not likely to find them in the 1870 census living together.

I have yet to find a Silas in the 1870 census in New York, but I have found a really good candidate in 1850 and 1860.

According to his tombstone, Silas was born in January 1850 in New York, prior to the census in 1850, so he should be in there.  I found only one candidate, a 1 year old Silas in Elmira, Chemung, New York:


In 1850, Jonathan is listed as being born in New York; in 1860 he is listed as being born in New Jersey.  Is Jonathan the father of Silas?  Is this the right Silas?

Jonathan dies in 1869.  Here is a snippet of the will that I locate in a tree on that lists his next of kin:


In 1869, Jonathan leaves his estate to his one son, his five daughters whom he does name directly and his grandson Samuel Maxwell.  In the will he does not mention his wife.  In the paperwork, her name is left blank, so I suspect that Abigail has died sometime between 1860 and 1869.

The previous page on the will, lists Silas Allington, Caroline Davis, Samuel Maxwell all of Elmira, New York; Eliza Hill of Van Etten, New York; and Harriet Ving or King and James Bennett of Illinois.  The surrogate for the Will states that he doesn’t know where Harriet or James live in Illinois.  This doesn’t add up to 5 daughters, but there are enough names in here to associate it to what we see in the 1850 and 1860 census.


I’ve also found Emma Potter, very close to Elmira in 1860 in Horseheads, Chemung, New York.  She is living most likely her parents, Morris and Amelia Potter, which matches the Illinois death record:


I find an Emeline Potter in Horsehead in 1870 working for a Smith family:


Is this your Emmeline?  Possibly. I could not find Silas in 1870.  And I could not find any marriage records online for New York.  If he is still in Elmira, it is very close to Horseheads and so we have them possibly geographically close to each other.  They had to meet somewhere!

So I believe that Jonathan and Abigail Allington are excellent candidates for Silas’ parents.  I would try and find the following:

  • A marriage record for Silas and Emma/Emeline
  • Birth records for the children born in New York
  • Obituaries for any Allington you are researching here
  • A death record for Silas

I would also track the other children of Jonathan and Abigail as well as the people in Jonathan’s will.  They may have left you a clue which will prove or disprove this theory. 

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

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